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2013 Fantasy Golf Guide


You can enjoy the thrill of competing for major championships or the FedExCup without suffering the embarrassment of topping your opening drive or missing a two-foot putt. It's Fantasy Golf 2013, a great way to follow your favorite players and piggyback off their success.

Here's a quick guide to the players you need to watch, and draft. Take this list to your draft table, then sit back and ride your players' coattails — or, more accurately, their stylish slacks and white belt — to Fantasy Golf glory.

League rules may vary, but just like in the actual game of golf, our listing gives extra weight to the major championships, so depending on your league, draft accordingly, and watch those field announcements for the lesser tournaments. Nothing worse than counting on Tiger and then realizing too late that he's bailed on the John Deere for the 18th year in a row.

Flight A
Rory McIlroy
World Ranking: 1
2012 Earnings (Rank): $8,047,952 (1st)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 6

He's established himself as the best golfer on the planet, and now that he has a multimillion-dollar Nike deal in his pocket, he's one of the richest athletes in history. The only question: How hungry is he? We think he's still pretty famished, especially from a major championship perspective; with two career majors, he has plenty of work to do to catch the reigning king.

Tiger Woods
World Ranking: 2
2012 Earnings (Rank): $6,133,158 (2nd)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 74

Hunger is not a question mark for Tiger. For the first time in the Woods era, there's a clear No. 1, and it's not him. Plus, there's that nagging major drought that is approaching five full years. Now that Tiger's the hunter, look for him to dig deep and try to knock Rory from the perch that he believes to be his birthright.

Luke Donald
World Ranking: 3
2012 Earnings (Rank): $3,512,024 (14th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 5

Donald's not a guy you bank on with a major on the line, but he's a fantasy stud, good for a win or two and plenty of money. Shy away from him at the bomber's layouts; his lack of power and his inconsistent tee-to-green game are detriments on long, tight courses.

Phil Mickelson
World Ranking: 19
2012 Earnings (Rank): $4,203,821 (8th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 40
The clock is ticking for Lefty, who at 42 doesn't have much time left to add significantly to his Hall of Fame resume. But you can take a win or two to the bank; since 1993, Mickelson has won at least once every year but two, and his last winless campaign came in 2003. He's also finished in the top 8 in earnings in 13 of the last 17 years. For a guy who's inconsistent from hole to hole, that's some remarkable consistency.

Justin Rose
World Ranking: 5
2012 Earnings (Rank): $4,290,930 (7th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 4

For stretches of 2012, Rose was the best golfer on the planet. He led the PGA and European Tours in greens in regulation, won a WGC event (the Cadillac), was a Ryder Cup stud and beat Tiger and Lee Westwood in Turkey at the end of the year. He has a run at No. 1 well within his grasp.

Flight B
Dustin Johnson
World Ranking: 13
2012 Earnings (Rank): $3,393,820 (19th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 7
With a superstar WAG in tow (Wayne Gretzky's daughter Paulina), Johnson has capitalized on his limitless potential and attained superstardom. With his win at the season-opening Mercedes, Johnson has an active six-year streak of at least one win. Next step: a major championship. He's come close; watch him at the PGA, where breakthroughs often happen.

Keegan Bradley
World Ranking: 12
2012 Earnings (Rank): $3,910,658 (10th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 3

His on-course quirks — his cockeyed putt-reading, his slow play, his spitting (since curtailed) — haven't endeared him to his fellow competitors, but the guy can play. He led the Tour's All Around category in 2012, indicating a complete game that can win anywhere. He has a PGA and a WGC win on his career ledger; he'll add to that burgeoning resume in 2013.

Webb Simpson
World Ranking: 15
2012 Earnings (Rank): $3,436,758 (17th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 3

It's easy to forget that the low-key, unflappable Simpson is the reigning U.S. Open champion, but he's on the cusp of elite status, and his iron play will put him in contention multiple times in 2013. He might even mount a successful Open title defense at Merion, whose tight fairways reward accuracy.

Brandt Snedeker
World Ranking: 8
2012 Earnings (Rank): $4,989,739 (3rd)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 4

Sneds is the world's best putter, and that skill is fantasy gold. The reigning FedExCup champ erases countless mistakes with his flatstick and his magical short game. And how's this for a career trajectory: Snedeker has improved his spot on the money list every year since 2008, with a high of third in 2012. It's tough to get much higher — but still possible.

Louis Oosthuizen
World Ranking: 4
2012 Earnings (Rank): $3,460,995 (15th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 1

Oostie has the skills to be a multiple major winner this year. He has the best swing in golf, with effortless power and the ability to dominate an elite field.

Flight C
Lee Westwood
World Ranking: 7
2012 Earnings (Rank): $3,016,569 (24th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 2
Poor Westwood. The guy is a Colin Montgomerie for a new generation, contending at major after major only to fall short, kissing Ryder Cups while other players hoist the important individual trophies. He turns 40 this year, and he's moved to the States to make one final push to get over the hump. His suspect short game has been his Achilles heel and bumps him down a fantasy flight.

Adam Scott
World Ranking: 6
2012 Earnings (Rank): $2,899,557 (25th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 8

Scott was primed to shed the major monkey until his late meltdown at the 2012 British Open. His transition from inept to acceptable on the greens has keyed his recent resurgence, but one has to wonder how the anchored putter's fall from grace will impact Scott's season. His ballstriking is as good as anyone's, so expect him to amass plenty of money.

Jason Dufner
World Ranking: 11
2012 Earnings (Rank): $4,869,304 (4th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 2

Try these statistical nuggets on for size: Dufner made the fewest bogeys per round on Tour in 2012, and he finished the season riding an active streak of 21 cuts made. That, my friends, is the recipe for fantasy superstardom. His game has no apparent weaknesses; if he gets hot, he could vault up a flight or two.

Matt Kuchar
World Ranking: 22
2012 Earnings (Rank): $3,903,065 (11th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 4

Kooch does everything but win — he has only four career wins to show for a career that is seemingly decades old. But in fantasy, slow and steady can be good enough, and Kuchar's 29 top 10s in the last three years are impossible to ignore. A key win or two could open the floodgates.

Bubba Watson
World Ranking: 9
2012 Earnings (Rank): $4,644,997 (5th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 4

Watson won The Masters and then promptly disappeared from view, making one wonder if that signature win was the start of something or merely a one-shot. His length and shotmaking skills are sufficient to put him in contention in any given week; the key to his fantasy longevity lies between his ears.

Flight D
Ian Poulter
World Ranking: 14
2012 Earnings (Rank): $1,715,271 (45th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 2
The flamboyant, uber-confident Poulter was the star of the Ryder Cup, but we're not ready to anoint him a week-to-week threat just yet. His newfound consistency is impressive — he didn't miss a cut on either Tour, and he finished in the top 10 in three of the four majors — but he's still in the show-me stage, especially at majors.

Zach Johnson
World Ranking: 25
2012 Earnings (Rank): $4,504,244 (6th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 9

Johnson had the third multiple-win season of his career in 2012, and you can expect more of the same in 2013. Like Snedeker, he makes his money on the greens, which means he can contend just about anywhere — even on the bomber's tracks.

Steve Stricker
World Ranking: 10
2012 Earnings (Rank): $3,420,021 (18th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 12

Stricker has announced his intentions to fade into retirement, so monitor his schedule before slotting him into your fantasy lineup. But when he plays, he's a threat, thanks largely to his unmatched wedge game and streaky-hot putter. He's made the cut in his last 12 major appearances. His horrendous Ryder Cup does give us pause and knocks him down a flight.

Ernie Els
World Ranking: 24
2012 Earnings (Rank): $3,453,118 (16th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 19

Els made the Hall of Fame last year, and he won a fourth major, so you have to wonder what's left. Still, don't underestimate the Big Easy's desire for that fifth major, which would be the second-most majors of the Tiger Woods era. His putter betrays him far too often, but he still has the tee-to-green game to contend.

Hunter Mahan
World Ranking: 26
2012 Earnings (Rank): $4,019,193 (9th)
Career PGA Tour Wins: 5

Mahan grabbed his fourth and fifth career wins in 2012, and when he gets on a roll, he can be scary-good. But he disappears for long stretches as well. Try to catch the Mahan wave at the right time and ride it for as far as it goes.

Charl Schwartzel

Branden Grace

Sergio Garcia

Jim Furyk

Bo Van Pelt

Nick Watney

Graeme McDowell

Rickie Fowler

Padraig Harrington